2018 South America spring forecast: Drought may worsen Venezuela water crisis; Flooding rain to soak Peru, Ecuador

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
August 31, 2018, 8:04:07 AM EDT

Wet weather will be common from the southern coast of Brazil through Ecuador and Peru with heavy downpours threatening to cause flooding and landslides.

Meanwhile, a persistent dry pattern from northeast Brazil through Venezuela will cause drought concerns to mount across the region.

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Drought may develop in northern Brazil, worsen in Venezuela

Dry conditions in the coming months will raise drought concerns across the northern reaches of South America this spring.

“Rainfall opportunities will become more infrequent during the season across the northern part of South America,” AccuWeather Lead Global Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

One factor contributing to the upcoming drier-than-normal spring is the developing El Niño.

El Niño occurs when water in the tropical Pacific Ocean rises to above-normal levels for an extended period of time, influencing the global weather pattern.

“The limiting of rainfall will lead to drought areas across Venezuela worsening and expanding into the Brazilian states of Roraima, Amapa, Para and portions of Maranhao. “

The building drought is likely to intensify the water crisis in Venezuela.

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In this June 14, 2018 photo, a water bottle is used as a funnel to fill a large container with water trickling from a hillside spring, during water shortages in Caracas, Venezuela. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

The greatest concern for drought this spring will be across Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, but abnormally dry conditions may also lead to dryness problems in northeast Brazil.

“The wet season usually begins in these areas in October or November and continues through their summer, but the slow start to the wet season may lead to problems for crops,“ Nicholls said.

This includes the states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso and Rio de Janeiro.

The drier conditions will be accompanied by warmer-than-normal weather across the area throughout much of the spring, he added.

Rain to frequent Uruguay to Peru, Ecuador

While a dry spring is on tap from Venezuela across northern Brazil, areas just to the south will see wetter weather in the coming months.

“Area farther south in eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay into Uruguay and northeast Argentina will have frequent storm systems leading to adequate to excessive rainfall,” Nicholls said.

However, northeastern Argentina may have to wait until the second half of the season before seeing rain on a more regular basis.

“These bouts of wet weather will likely keep temperatures over these areas near to slightly below normal for the season,” Nicholls added.

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Meanwhile, heavier rain fueled by a developing El Niño could bring a higher risk of flooding in areas near the tropical Pacific Ocean.

“The warming of these waters can lead to excessive rainfall and the risk of flooding across portions of Peru and Ecuador from mid-October into November,“ Nicholls said.

Areas in mountainous terrain should be on alert for potential mudslides during bouts of heavy rain.

Warmth to dominate across Chile, central Argentina

Spring will feature widespread heat in Chile and Argentina with only a few breaks in the heat early in the season.

“Central Argentina and much of central and northern Chile, including Santiago, will be warmer than normal for the season,” Nicholls said.

While the season as a whole will be warm, early season storms may bring light rain, mountain snow and brief spells of cooler weather to central Chile in September.

As the season progresses, the storms will begin to track farther south. As a result, much of Chile and Argentina can expect largely warm and dry conditions in October and November with the potential for several heat waves.

Meanwhile, a parade of storms will drench the southern extent of South America early in the spring before the frequency of storms diminishes later in the season.

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